When we first read about Mushka and saw his photos on the AMCUK Rescue site, we knew he was the one for us - now we just had to prove that we were the ones for him! After going through the process of the home visit and receiving approval, we anxiously rang the Danewalk kennels to see if Mushka was still available. Later that afternoon we had a phone call – it was Ann: ‘Would you be able to pop up to North Yorkshire tomorrow to meet him?’ ‘Of course,’ we replied ‘no problem at all’ , as Terry turned the car around from our grocery trip and headed back home to quickly pack for the 700 mile round journey from where we live in North Devon. We booked our overnight stay and on the way up stopped at Pets At Home to buy the essentials including a dog bed, hoping we would be coming home with our new family member. Of course, we still had to be approved by Mushka’s foster carer, Kerrie and the other lovely people at Danewalk.
On arriving there, we talked to Ann, Phil and Kerrie and then we met Mushka – wow what a big chap (‘We’re going to need a bigger bed!’ we thought). He had (and has) a tremendous presence and yet was still so sociable and excited to be in the limelight. Our first walk with Mushka was not quite what we expected – about 100 metres and then a sit down, but we knew we were up for the challenge of helping him to get fitter and gradually lose a few pounds. The next day, encouraging him to jump into our CVR was also something of a challenge - he was definitely too heavy to lift and no way was he going to jump up on his own. After several rather comical attempts and some improvisation, we found ourselves heading home with our beautiful new family member.
Five months on, we cannot imagine being without our lovely ‘big chap’. Work is ongoing with his separation anxiety and also his weight loss and exercise regime but he now loves his daily walks, as well as playing football with his tennis ball or hide and seek, when he’s in the mood. He is not a high-energy chap, as many Mallies are and he’s definitely not a ‘morning dog’ (oh how sensible!) – he likes to get into the day slowly. He does not like water but loves the high places along the cliffs on the coastal path (he has no fear of heights unlike us) and on many occasions has surprised coastal path walkers who look up and see a huge Alaskan Malamute high on the ridge, howling across the valley to the cows on the other side.
Although he does have a sensitive tummy, he has developed, quite by accident a real liking for strawberries and it’s quite a funny scene to catch him with his great bear-like head stuffed under the netting over the strawberry patch! He’s also pretty partial to discarded tissues, which he consumes with relish if he has spotted them before us along our walks. Strangely, the latter don’t seem to upset his tum at all!
As the lovely Sam (rescue co-ordinator) rightly said, he absolutely loves meeting and greeting people, especially children and young people and instinctively knows which people like dogs and for those, he reserves his special mally “aroowwwoo”. Mushka is, in fact, quite a chatty chap, expressing himself in his own language which we are starting to understand now. If we have to go shopping, whichever one of us is waiting outside the shop is always surrounded by adults and children making a fuss of him, which he adores. He seems to have become a bit of a celebrity, appearing on our neighbours’ facebook page (West Tosberry Farm), surrounded by some lovely young women from N.London who were staying at their holiday cottages and for a while he was on a friend’s homepage for his Tai Chi club. This same friend, Richard, wrote a postcard from Mushka to Sam which we are including here, as it has Mushka's paw of approval:
' Hi Sam, having a good time by the sea with the people I adopted, they're not bad, couple of dinners a day and as many snacks of sheep dung as I can grab when I take them out for a walk. I sleep in the conservatory ... they wanted me to sleep with them but no way - all that snoring was awful. The bloke, er Terry I think his name is, is a bit awkward and pulls on the lead so I have to work hard to keep him at heel .... oh, and they've got a tall bald bloke as a pal who keeps calling me tubby .... got my own back on him the other week ... slobbered drool all round his groin ... hee hee arrroooooow, well must close now as dog whisperer is on TV and I want them to watch it ..... save me a lot of trouble, all the best, Mush xx'
We feel blessed and privileged to have such a beautiful animal in our lives and wish to thank everyone involved in helping us to adopt Mushka, who has brought so much joy to us and others.